Circulate’s Findings from Blueprint: Top Tips for Peer Led Festivals

Members of Circulate gathered evidence at the Tate Liverpool Blueprint Festival, analysed it and identified these key learning points for:

  • Designing a festival
  • Promoting a festival
  • Collecting evidence at a festival
  • Learning for other people, like gallery educators and artists, about running a peer led festival


Designing a Festival 

  1. Ensure the work is peer led but that young people have enough support and guidance.
  2. Plan strategically to engage ‘hard to reach’ audiences, through involving the community / potential audiences in organising the festival / event as well as targeting publicity to hard to reach audiences and advertising across a city.
  3. Include drop-in workshops and advertise these across the various festival locations. Include spoken word performances; offering new insight into different practices and forms of art.
  4. Festivals will inevitably be attended by people over as well as under 25, including arts and gallery education professionals, so think about how festivals can influence gallery approaches and adults’ perceptions of young people.
  5. Ensure you have Plan Bs, such as planning better for the weather with more inside or spare spaces just in case.
  6. Make sure Festivals are events that take over / fill the gallery / utilise all spaces and change the dynamic of the gallery space, opening up access and changing perceptions.
  7. Work across all departments with the young people, i.e. marketing, press etc.


Promoting a Festival 

  1. Advertise details of festival, such as drop in workshops, more clearly than simply in the programme and market it early.
  2. Produce specific websites and /or Facebook page for festivals to generate further visitors.
  3. Collaborate with other venues in city to ensure early advertising and promotion.
  4. Ensure layout of programme is clear as well as attractive and thematic
  5. Use different types of media to promote events – Social Media, Radio, TV, Papers


Collecting Evidence at a Festival

  1. Arrive before you plan to start gathering evidence, to see the exhibition and / or experience elements of the festival before interviewing people, so that you know and understand what it is that they are talking about.
  2. Keep notes of the things you hear people saying, not during interviews, but things you overhear, or things people say after you ‘turn off the mic,’ and consider being an ‘undercover evaluator’ for some of the festival or event.
  3. Set your own random target when you are planning who to interview, so rather than approaching the next person who looks as if they are enjoying themselves, decide that you will ask the third person who passes by, before you see them.
  4. Tell people their feedback will be useful in improving what we do, so you are able to elicit a more critical perspective; if people know that we really want to hear their opinion, in order to improve, they are more likely to be honest.
  5. Use audio interviews more as these can be better than filmed interviews as they nurture a more natural conversation.


Learning for other people, like gallery educators and artists, about running a peer led festival

  1. Try to get more practical / commercial / design based workshops into galleries to demonstrate the part art can play in various career paths, engaging young people through highlighting the vocational relevance of working with galleries.
  2.  Allow the young people as much autonomy as possible.
  3. Create opportunities like Blueprint for young people to gain work experience and so they have roles through which they can gain valuable experiences.
  4. Pay the young people because of the work they do, don’t assume it will always be voluntary.
  5. Support young people to ‘take over’ galleries, to challenge expectations and stereotypes.